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Temperature Sensitive Tags Can Help Consumers Make Safe Meat Choices

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BELMONT — Picking out meat can be risky. The packages have a "sell by" date on them, but how can you be sure the meat is really fresh? A company near Charlotte has developed labels that will make it easier to play it safe.

Cox Technologies, located in Gaston County, is gearing up for mass production of its hot new product. Cox says it is one of three companies in the world makingtime and temperature sensitive tagsthat tell you if perishable items are still safe.

"It can be used on almost any kind of food type: seafood, meat, dairy products, deli products -- almost all perishable food types," says Jim Cox, company president.

The tag is a sticker. A seal on the tag is popped, mixing two time and temperature-sensitive chemicals that turn green. The green color indicates it is OK to buy the product.

After six days at 38 degrees, a tag cautions consumers by turning yellow.

"If for some reason it was subjected to a higher temperature it may turn at five days, four days, or even three days depending upon how out of whack that temperature regime has been," says Cox.

The tags have captured the interest of a number of supermarkets in the Triangle. State food regulators say it is an idea worth checking out.

"It's a real great tool to help consumers, helps the retailers and consumers know their product is safe," says N.C. Food and Drug administrator Don Howell.

One grocery store manager told WRAL he likes the technology, but cost is a factor. These tags can go for as much as 17 cents each in smaller batches.

The new technology already has a few takers. A Seattle grocery chain and another one in the Midwest are using the labels. By next summer, they could be in a supermarket near you.

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Len Besthoff, Reporter
John Cox, Photographer
Michelle Singer, Web Editor

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